Article

Proposed highland plantation wind farm generates concern

Robert Gardiner, a public broadcasting executive-turned-wind power developer, fielded questions from the audience about the so-called Highland Wind project. It's a $250 million development that would place 48 wind turbines in a single-file, southeasterly row along four peaks. It would likely be visible from the Appalachian Trail. ...I'm very concerned about the mountaintop removal," says Greg Perkins, the owner of the home in Highland Plantation that would be closest to the wind farm, about a half-mile away. He's also a soil scientist. "I really think we need to rethink this whole wind power thing in Maine. It doesn't create that much energy and for what we're losing, there's no balance to it. So I really think we need to rethink it."

Former Maine Gov. Angus King and former Maine Public Broadcasting Corp. Director Robert Gardiner are looking to develop a wind farm in Highland Plantation, just north of New Portland in Somerset County. At a town meeting last night, area residents grilled the investors on their plans.

The 2008 Census population estimate for Highland Plantation in Somerset County was 52 people. And about that many were crammed into a one-room schoolhouse for a an informational meeting about a proposed wind farm in that unorganized territory.

Robert Gardiner, a public broadcasting executive-turned-wind power developer, fielded questions from the audience about the so-called Highland Wind project. It's a $250 million development that would place 48 wind turbines in a single-file, southeasterly row along four peaks. It would likely be visible from the Appalachian Trail.

"Roughly 130 megawatts total capacity, which is equal to the Kibby project in size," Gardiner says. "The exact number of kilowatts, megawatts will be based on which turbine we select. These are either 2.3 or 3.0 megawatts, which are the biggest land turbines in use almost anywhere in the world."

Gardiner says these... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Former Maine Gov. Angus King and former Maine Public Broadcasting Corp. Director Robert Gardiner are looking to develop a wind farm in Highland Plantation, just north of New Portland in Somerset County. At a town meeting last night, area residents grilled the investors on their plans.

The 2008 Census population estimate for Highland Plantation in Somerset County was 52 people. And about that many were crammed into a one-room schoolhouse for a an informational meeting about a proposed wind farm in that unorganized territory.

Robert Gardiner, a public broadcasting executive-turned-wind power developer, fielded questions from the audience about the so-called Highland Wind project. It's a $250 million development that would place 48 wind turbines in a single-file, southeasterly row along four peaks. It would likely be visible from the Appalachian Trail.

"Roughly 130 megawatts total capacity, which is equal to the Kibby project in size," Gardiner says. "The exact number of kilowatts, megawatts will be based on which turbine we select. These are either 2.3 or 3.0 megawatts, which are the biggest land turbines in use almost anywhere in the world."

Gardiner says these turbines aren't necessarily taller than those at other locations in Maine, standing about 250 feet high. The closest house to the proposed sites is about half a mile away, but other homes are over a mile away. Gardiner and former Maine Gov. Angus King already have another project under construction in Roxbury, near Rumford. That's a 22-turbine, 50-megawatt project called Record Hill Wind.

King says they're choosing wind farm locations carefully, keeping in mind the problems that have arisen from the Mars Hill development. "Why this mountain? There are really three reasons. One is it's great wind. Two, it's far from homes. And the third reason is there's already a transmission line that runs right through the property, so we don't have to cut a new transmission line through the woods. So that's why we're here."

But most of the audience was already familiar with King and Gardiners' reasons for proposing a wind farm in Highland Plantation. The third town meeting of its kind, this one lasted three hours. Many crowd members listened silently, but those who spoke were generally critical, or at the very least skeptical, of the project.

"When you're cutting the tops of these mountains, we already have a great deal of water problems flowing down and eroding the streams with the logging that's been done," said Vicky Burbank, a resident of neighboring Lexington. "And there is no help or hope for those of us who just live down the road here a bit from you where the water is taking away my farmland."

Burbank says she doesn't think the clearing of one-and-a-quarter acres of trees per turbine is as modest as the developers described it. Other attendees voiced concerns ranging from light pollution and property devaluation to wildlife displacement and the effects of electromagnetic fields, turbine noise and shadow flicker on human health.

"Oh I'm definitely feeling that the project should not be done. I'm very concerned about the wildlife. I'm very concerned about the mountaintop removal," says Greg Perkins, the owner of the home in Highland Plantation that would be closest to the wind farm, about a half-mile away. He's also a soil scientist. "I really think we need to rethink this whole wind power thing in Maine. It doesn't create that much energy and for what we're losing, there's no balance to it. So I really think we need to rethink it."

In addition to question and answers about the Highland Wind project, a large part of the meeting was spent debating the more general topics of wind power, climate change and energy consumption. Several audience members say they question their power in the decision making process, which is largely governed by the state Land Use Regulation Commission.

King and Gardiner have been talking with town officials and a forest management company about the Highland Wind project for well over a year. Gardiner says the development would lower taxes in Highland Plantation by 90 percent. One audience member called that bribery.


Source: http://www.mpbn.net/News/Ma...

NOV 20 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23233-proposed-highland-plantation-wind-farm-generates-concern
back to top